Travis Devlin, director of milling for the North Dakota Mill, shows how the product drops into sifters and separates the particles.

 

The ways in which business is conducted has changed dramatically in the past 100 years. But for the North Dakota Mill, the mission has stayed the same.

“To create additional demand for North Dakota farmers, to provide a profit to the state and conduct our business with integrity,” said Vance Taylor, president and CEO. “We do that by providing high quality flour, starting with some of the best wheat and durum in the world, sourced from North Dakota farmers. And we strive to deliver that with superior customer service.”

The state mill celebrated its 100th anniversary on Oct. 20, with employee-led public tours through the Grand Forks-based facility. The day was capped by a banquet and ceremony that featured influential speakers from around the state.  

The mill — with its roots in populism led by the Nonpartisan League during the era of World War I — provided farmers a way to bypass the gouging grain trade monopolies in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Today, the state mill grinds 140,000 bushels of spring wheat and produces 6 million pounds of flour per day with 10 different milling units, utilizing 156 employees.

“We have very dedicated hard-working employees,” Taylor said, “and they kept the plant running through the pandemic and all of its issues.”

The mill accepts grain from mostly the northeast corner of the state, stretching all the way to Rugby and “mostly north of Highway 2.”

“We do take wheat from all across the state at different times,” Taylor added. 

One of the partners of the state mill is the Dakota Pride Cooperative, which is a community of North Dakota producers who grow a specific commodity for the state mill.

“That co-op provides hard white spring wheat that we need to service a set of customers,” he said.

Taylor said most of the flour that leaves the state mill heads to the country’s population centers.

“Most of our shipments are long distance by rail up and down the East Coast,” said Taylor, in his 22nd year. “New York City is our biggest market and has been for a long time, going back to the 1980s.”

Looking forward, Taylor sees a new storage facility currently being constructed as a way to provide the mill with more flexibility. It’s scheduled to finish in February 2024.

“It’ll allow us to produce and pelletize mill feed when we want to versus when we are forced to by a lack of storage room,” he said. “It’ll get us through the weekends.”

Taylor emphasized the importance of the support the mill receives from all of its stakeholders.

“In general, we receive strong support from producers, elevators and our state and local governments, and our customers and vendors as well,” Taylor said. “We try to create partnerships. That’s served us well over the years. We have good relationships.”

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU